The tech year starts with the CES conference where this year maker of children's tablets Fuhu is announcing their new range of tablets in collaboration with DreamWorks Animation. Fuhu has built a reputation for quality children's tablets with built in parental controls and their new tablets are scheduled for release in Spring 2014.
8 and 12" DreamTabsThe new range will include an 8 inch tablet which is slightly larger than most of the entry level kids tablets which tend to be 7". If they can keep the weight down then I think this is a good thing.
But more interesting to me is the new 12" form factor (previously Nabi have offered 10.1".) I am expecting larger format family tablets to take off once they reach a price and quality point that makes sense. I've written about large format tablets before. We have a 13" tablet which is far from perfect, but gives a taste of what it's going to be like to use bigger devices. I predict that these larger devices will replace laptops and personal TV screens for children. Large tablets are great for sharing and for families playing games together. (Ours gets used for ad-hoc Netflix viewing in various locations.)
Weight is an issue and a larger tablet won't be used in quite the same way as a smaller one. It might be used on a table top or on a tablet stand. I'm very interested to see Fuhu taking this direction.
DreamWorks CollaborationFuhu are making a big deal of their collaboration with DreamWorks (makers of Shrek, Madagascar and other kids' favorites.) This will include content created specially for the DreamTab devices. One particularly interesting aspect of this is the School of Dragons game which will be based on the How to Train Your Dragon franchise. This game will use the Near Field Communication (NFC) feature of the DreamTab to enable interaction with physical toys in the manner of Skylanders or Disney Infinity. That would definitely appeal to my younger son.
Kids' Social Network
This is definitely something that is needed. I'm not sure how well this will work if it requires all friends to have a Nabi tablet though. My kids friends and family members have a mixture of devices and it would be difficult to change that.
SummaryLast year we saw a proliferation of cheap Android tablets on the market. Fuhu need to offer something over and above that experience in order to ensure that their devices offer good value for money and an enhanced experience to families.
It looks to me like they are headed in a good direction with quality content, NFC-based gaming and a larger screen size.
The DreamTab is expected to be available in the US in Spring 2014 with an international roll out later in the year. A release early in the year rather than waiting for the holiday season makes sense. Any problems related to the new features should get worked out well in advance of the main buying season.